As the harms from smoking and drinking continue to pile up, more people are looking to trade in their bad habits for some better ones.
In the U.S. alone, cigarette and alcohol abuse leads to over half a million deaths per year.
In fact, an estimated one in eight people in the U.S. struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and a further 50 million are addicted to tobacco.
Though as anyone who has tried to curb these habits will know, it’s easier said than done.
Interestingly enough, cannabis — which was once referred to as a “Gateway drug” that leads users down a pathway of more dangerous substances — is now being considered as a tool to help people overcome their alcohol and tobacco addictions.
Though it’s not just the entirety of cannabis that helps, more specifically it’s one of the compounds within the plant known as cannabidiol or CBD, which is helping people to stop smoking and drinking.
So perhaps it’s time to put down the cigarette and pick up a CBD salve instead, as this cannabinoid compound is showing huge potential in helping to kick these bad habits.
Alcoholism is defined as a “recurrent use of alcohol resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, during driving or at home,”
While many will have a drink to unwind after a long day of work, it’s when you begin to skip work in order to drink that your use is considered an addiction or problematic.
Alcoholism is rated the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and is host to many spillover effects, such as driving accidents caused by drinking, and fetal alcohol syndrome in children whose parents drank during pregnancy.
So where does CBD come in?
According to a study by ‘Frontiers in Pharmacology’ titled ‘Therapeutic Prospects of Cannabidiol for Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcohol-Related Damages on the Liver and the Brain,’ CBD “could directly reduce alcohol drinking in subjects with AUD.”
CBD, or cannabidiol, helps users overcome addiction on a number of fronts:
Firstly, addiction is considered by some to be a symptom of other issues such as stress or anxiety, and that usage increases with stressors or other triggers.
Studies have indicated that CBD causes animals to become less responsive to stress-induced triggers for alcohol administration, lasting months after their CBD use.
However, while stress may certainly lead one to use alcohol more frequently, it can very quickly become a physical addiction, where withdrawal symptoms are the main cause for concern. Don’t worry though, CBD once again has you covered.
Another study entitled ‘Cannabidiol as a Novel Candidate Alcohol Use Disorder Pharmacotherapy: A Systematic Review’ found that “In both rodent and cell culture models, CBD was found to exert a neuroprotective effect against adverse alcohol consequences on the hippocampus.”
“In rodent models, CBD was found to attenuate alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity, specifically, alcohol-induced steatosis. Finally, findings from preclinical rodent models also indicate that CBD attenuates alcohol self-administration, withdrawal-induced convulsions, and impulsive discounting of delayed rewards.”
Put simply, CBD eases the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism, while reducing stress and anxiety. Neat, huh?
CBD to Quit Smoking
Similar to alcoholism, addiction to smoking can be seen as the continued use of cigarettes despite negative effects on one’s life or wellbeing.
Smoking is known to cause cancers, emphysema, and respiratory issues, and is the leading cause of most cancers.
And again, like alcoholism, you not only form a habit around the behavior, but your brain actually rewires itself around the expectation of receiving nicotine — making it much harder to quit.
Well, in a double-blind study performed by the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at the University College of London, volunteers were given an inhaler, containing either CBD or a placebo. Whenever the volunteers felt the urge to smoke, they were told to simply use the inhaler. Here’s what the study had to say:
“Over the treatment week, placebo-treated smokers showed no differences in the number of cigarettes smoked.”
“In contrast, those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment. Results also indicated some maintenance of this effect at follow-up.”
Other studies have even shown that CBD use can lessen the attractiveness of “cigarette cues,” so that users will actually be less inclined to think about cigarettes throughout the day.
And if you don’t know where to get a CBD inhaler, you can buy CBD vape cartridges, which will help to mimic the motion of smoking cigarettes and simulate the experience, without harmful toxins, nicotine or smoke.
And the best part? The World Health Organisation (WHO) found that CBD is not addictive, and poses no health risks from usage.
In fact, there’s a whole host of benefits to using CBD like reducing inflammation, improving sleep and mood, decreasing anxiety, and for some, treating serious diseases like epilepsy. You don’t even need to be a smoker or a drinker to find benefits from cannabidiol!
CBD For You & Me
Cannabis has come a long way in a short time, and as research pours forth, the classic ‘Gateway Theory’ is beginning to look more like the opposite of the truth.
Cannabis and it’s contents are being trialed for tumor reduction, aiding with PTSD, depression, and anxiety, as well as being considered a tool to ease people off of harsher drugs. Not only that but economies who legalize cannabis see a big uptick in job creation and tax collection. (Colorado’s monthly tax revenues on cannabis haven’t dipped below $20 million in the past two years.)
The only real Gateway that cannabis seems to provide is one towards lessened drug use, improved mood, and decreased reliance on traditional opiates for pain relief.
And in a world where tobacco and alcohol are readily available at every street corner, adding cannabis (and particularly CBD) in the mix only provides a healthier, safer alternative with less capacity for addiction.
So if you find yourself struggling to put down the bottle, or putting out another cigarette butt; don’t beat yourself up. It’s difficult quitting, but CBD may certainly help you along your journey.
As for the cannabis industry, it’s not only here to stay; it’s here to grow.
This post originally appeared on The Green Fund — APAC Region’s leading source of cannabis information.